Four more weeks of The Creative Pathfinder Course full of valuable lessons on nurturing our creative talents and successfully bringing them forth into the world. See this post for context and week 1-4 lessons.
Note: As my study and practice of meditation and consciousness continues (see my last post, or previous posts on meditation), I see more and more overlap between the wisdom of those life elements and healthy, successful creative work.
Topic = Information Processing
- Through our senses and our consciousness, and subconscious, we are sponges, continuously taking in information (etymology: knowledge communicated.) And in order to utilize all that info, we must process it. Learning, and practicing effective processing methods has a profound effect on our creative output.
This is how I’m seeing the flow of energy:
- Reframing: This is such a key, not just for opening up creative possibilities, but also a critical skill for enjoying life. A truly important lesson: how we interpret and what we do with our experiences is always Our Choice. This is a gift – Use It!!! And, as with any other skill, the more we practice it, the better we get and the more natural it becomes.
The more you do this, the more you will realise how much human beings make themselves happy, sad, anxious, or plain miserable over their interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves.
And, as one of my favorite wisdom teachers says:
Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.
- Mind Mapping: This is fun stuff. It’s great to get away from just black and white, left to right, and heavy reliance on words. Letting ideas flow freely and arranging them organically and colorfully is liberating and definitely helps us see things in new ways.
As you draw the mind map, you will start to see relationships and patterns emerge as if by themselves, which will help you order the material later on.
- Insight: means “sight with the eyes of the mind”; internal sight; inner knowing. I like the recognition that we can cultivate this gift through our actions. It’s not about just waiting to be struck with knowing, as with all growth it comes through continued effort.
This is how I’m seeing the Insight Flow
As I was writing about this lesson, this guidance (from an Insightful teacher! – see my last post on the SAND conference) synchronistically came to me:
Often our best ideas come, not when we are struggling to solve the problem, but when we are doing something completely different. When the mind is free and relaxed. So if you are struggling with something right now, take five minutes off. Give yourself a break. Do something completely different.
- Creative Flow: Again, being present and mindful, we begin to discover what choices and actions make our creative energy flow and what tangles it up. And also, knowing our true passions, our Big Dreams, and dedicating a majority of our time and energy to those pursuits, naturally feeds the flow. When we are in that flowing river, we are part of the cosmic rhythm, without separation, moving beyond space and time.
- The suggestion to observe those around us as they frame reality is a great one. Because, it is frequently easier to learn by observing externally. That practice, along with our personal practice of consciousness development, helps us see the self-limiting frames we all use, and to reframe. So, I will be paying closer attention to others and my self. As I observe negative/unproductive/self-limiting frames, I will run through the list of positive/productive/expansive options and shifting frames. And, in the creative realm, I’ll be giving more thought to the lenses (frames) that inspirational artists are using, and looking at my work (the tools/techniques/mediums/subjects/etc) through a variety of new lenses.
- I am in the midst of my first mind map, and a broadly encompassing one at that. Having fun with it and will write about when done. I plan to utilize this technique for other life and creative reviews/planning sessions.
- As I am more regularly in the moment (through meditation and consciousness development), I am more able to fully apply myself to the work, sense when it is time to take a break and shift focus, open to the insights that arise, and committed to using them constructively.
- I am consciously giving more of my time and energy to my passions and minimizing distractions to the flow.
Topic = Free Flowing Creative Energy
- Everyone experiences creative blocks, they do pass, and there are tricks to help them pass more quickly? That’s comforting!
- There are many, many reasons we resist doing good work. If we are really in the moment, we can recognize our inner dialogue and reframe it!
- Self discipline is critical, too. I like the suggestion to commit to staying present, with your materials, and bringing your focus back to the work.
Remembering why you are doing it and why it is worth the effort are great motivators as is envisioning the future we are creating.
- Sharing the experience of blocked creativity with trusted friends/family/colleagues/teachers often brings support and understanding which can actually loosen the block.
- The suggestion of making a list of past successes and continuously adding to it is great! We don’t tend to take much time to reflect on all that we have accomplished in life.
- Sometimes we just need to take a break, to shift focus. The more we know our true self, the more we’ll know when that’s what’s called for. And, just like developing an understanding of what keeps your creative energy flowing, we need to learn the best ways (for us) to rest and rejuvenate.
Just as others can inspire us to good work, we can inspire ourselves.
- I need to get going on that List of Past Successes.
- Read more of Mark’s ‘creative blocks’ series when I’m experiencing my own block, and learn from how others move through them.
Topic = Maximum Creativity and Productivity
- What is my top priority, in terms of productivity? To “carve out more time for creative work.” What are the benefits of doing that? More will be created/produced. I will feel a regular sense of accomplishment. It will build my confidence. I can move on to new projects/elements. My skills will grow. I will be happier.
- What is my weakest link right now? Routines. I have a good daily schedule, I just need to be more committed to, and disciplined in, following it.
- I’m doing quite well with the systems I have in place to capture ideas and commitments – yay for that!
- Read ‘Time Management for Creative People’
- Beyond following the general daily schedule, beginning each day by creating a short list of action items will help me focus in on my top priorities, and have a sense of accomplishment as they are crossed off. I do this but don’t start fresh every day – that’s going to feel really good, I think.
- Get out and meet new people. Dialoguing/sharing with people and experiencing their productions is inspiring, and inspiration feeds creativity and productivity.
Topic = Career Goals/Life Vision
- I have always seen myself, Big Picture, Big Dream, as a creative entrepreneur. I have plenty of ideas and inspirations, the challenge has been deeply assessing them, prioritizing, making a do-able action plan, and Doing The Work, staying focused, confident, and committed. The good news is that I am currently meeting all of those challenges, with consciousness, openness, and as much grace as I can summon. I am a “creative entrepreneur in training.”
- Doing work for other people, as an employee or consultant, can be in harmony with working on my personal creative projects. I have successfully balanced the two and this is actually the healthiest approach for me now. The stability and structure, challenges and collaboration of outside work can be both supportive and inspiring to my personal work.
- The trick is doing great work that is interesting and really brings forth your true talents and gifts. I am learning that trick!
My favorite takeaway from this series:
Happiness + Contribution = Success
-Ask yourself ‘What work do I love doing the most?’ and ‘Where do I contribute the most value?’
-Focus your efforts on the overlap between the two.
Thanks again, Mark!
Jeph and I attended and volunteered our energies to the Science and Nonduality Conference this past weekend. I am glad to have experienced it and grateful for the insights and food for thought/contemplation.
What resonated, through my lens:
All of us – people, creatures, elements, the whole earth, sun/moon/stars/planets – are connected. We Are All One.
Our physical bodies and primary communication mode, language, present both challenges and opportunities. We can get caught in labeling and separating ourselves from the world. And we can get caught in identifying only with what we experience in the physical realm, through our senses. But the opportunity exists, in every moment, to move beyond the physical and connect and communicate with what we’ve been led to believe is separate from “I”.
We recognize the opportunity when we are present in the moment. And in order to be fully present we must experience the moment, our be-ing, through all of our physical senses.
It’s all there for us. Really, really, look, listen, watch.
…and feel… Then we are grounded in the body – connected to the ground, the earth which graciously supports these bodies of ours (this would be a good time to pause and experience and express our deep gratitude for mother earth’s daily support of our life.)
It is not a mistake that we are here, now, in these bodies. That was a choice, too. “Moving beyond the physical” does not mean leaving the body behind, until it is time for that. Through embracing our earthly nature and loving and nourishing our body we will begin to sense the energy flowing within and through us. That energy is our connection to Universal Energy, our source. Again, We Are All One.
The more we choose to be fully present, in this moment, the more we will come to know our true, deepest self. The more we are here and now, the more we will recognize the interconnection of all life. And as we open up to that, the wisdom of the collective consciousness (and subconscious) will guide our life, our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.
How do I help others? How do I help this world?
Answer: (silence and presence) and, because we are having a physical experience and are taught to communicate with words, “By just Being – being fully present, being here now, being comfortable in a healthy body, being aware of our interconnection, being accepting of what is – our influence and contributions will be positive.”
And as we return to the moment (and remember to Breathe – that’s one way to really love and nourish our bodies) and connect with Universal energy, we begin to see the infinite nature of Being. Because there is no beginning or end, there is a circle – the circle of life. Which means that time is not linear, though our human perception has led us to believe it to be. So, if this moment encompasses all moments, by being fully here and now, we can access there and then, too. It’s funny, because somewhere in the process of “growing up” we all get in the habit of thinking about the future and the past quite a lot, and guess what that does? It takes us away from the present. It’s a bit of a conundrum because, on the one hand, we can’t be fully here if we are there and, on the other hand, when we are fully here, we can be, and actually are, there too. Hmmm…The thing to remember is Start Here.
Non-local = infinite in space and time. Consciousness exists non-locally.
When we are present, our consciousness naturally begins expanding. Infinite universal wisdom and our subconscious dwell beyond space and time and a regular meditation practice helps us quiet the mind and recognize their many forms and channels. When we are receptive to that guidance and observe the positive effects on our life (and rippling out far beyond “I”), we begin to trust gut feelings, intuition, synchronicities, and premonitions.
Premonitions are preventive medicine.
In the world of dreams (entered through sleep and also through shamanic and other guided journeys), we leave consciousness at the gate. Here the subconscious and collective subconscious are leading our journey. The more we open up to them in waking life (through being fully conscious in the present and through meditation), the deeper our connection in the dream world, and the richer our memories upon awakening again.
The best ways to get in tune with, and strengthen your powers of premonition: keep a dream journal (and pay attention to it!) and meditate.
-Larry Dossey (parenthesized addition by me)
And as we think and speak and act with consciousness of the interconnection, the Web of Life, our thoughts, words, and actions will benefit our life and all life.
What we do is not nearly as important as why we do it.
So let us Wake Up when we are in waking life.
Slow Down – let the busy mind and heart come into focus.
Breathe in life.
Release all that is not helpful, productive, needed.
Let Go of the past (it’s still there/here – we needn’t cling.)
Watch the future as it unfolds in the present.
Recognize Infinity, and the circle of time
in each Moment.
Open to the innate Wisdom
and move through life
See, really see,
and feel, really feel
your Self in every eye you look into,
every hand you hold,
every shoulder you touch,
creature you watch,
element you take in.
It is You.
The poetic moment is about breaking out of oneself.
I volunteered for a daylong at Spirit Rock this past weekend. It was my first time volunteering there, first daylong, first time doing walking meditation, and first time practicing lovingkindness. A lot of firsts in one day! I am so grateful for Spirit Rock and the opportunity to assist in exchange for participating in classes/events.
The day was led by Donald Rothberg and our morning session focused on mindfulness. There was some instruction on the basics of getting comfortable in your posture, tuning in to your breathing, and bringing your awareness back to the present, which is where mindfulness occurs. And in the second half of the day we learned about the practice of lovingkindness, phrases to personalize and silently repeat, and the different groups to direct this positivity towards. Both sessions alternated between sitting and walking meditations, and questions and guidance.
Mindfulness is not a new concept to me, in fact, cultivating it every day, every moment is my goal. I have been aware of the power of being present for quite a few years and that awareness is evolving into more and more of an active practice versus just a passive realization. In other words, I read ‘Be Here Now’ by Ram Das, and many other books of spirituality, eastern philosophy, etc, which taught mindfulness, back in my twenties, but continued to be somewhere besides here and now almost every moment. Really just within the past three to four years have these teachings started to dawn on me in a new, deeper way. I am gradually putting all of this wisdom (thousands of years worth) into practice. And that is the key to so much in life – doing the work, the practice.
I enjoyed Donald’s patient and lighthearted approach and the affirmative effect of all these people coming together to learn about slowing down, tuning in, and being present. It was nice to be a part of that and to have the time and space to dedicate to it.
Walking meditation is interesting. It’s a nice chance to stretch your legs and get outside. It requires concentration in different ways. I found, as did others in the class, that balance was trickier the more I slowed down. The positive effect was that being challenged to find balance brought my thinking and feeling back to now. And as is often the case with physical, tangible lessons, it made a lasting impression:
You need to be present in order to be balanced.
The afternoon was harder for me. I’ve found through observing my natural daily rhythms and patterns (and thank-you to Mark McGuinness’s Creative Pathfinder course for the prompting), that as the afternoon progresses, my concentration diminishes. And lovingkindess requires another level of concentration beyond mindfulness (which we still need to be practicing.) It was well worth the effort and very rewarding, though. Again, to give myself permission to sit quietly and cultivate positive, loving, patient, and kind feelings towards myself and towards the people, and creatures, of my world – if we all did this on a regular basis the world would be a nicer place. So much negativity could be dissipated by taking the time slow down and be kind and loving.
Donald provided some suggested phrases and this is how I personalized them:
May I/he/she/they be safe, secure, and comfortable.
May I/he/she/they be happy, healthy, strong, and vibrant.
May I/he/she/they live with ease and grace.
And May positive energy flow to and from me/him/her/them.
Thank-you, Donald, for your generous teachings.
What I find most interesting is that the following day was a hard one and three days later I am just starting to feel lightness and awareness return. I didn’t recognize what was happening on Sunday, just that my energy (physical/mental/emotional) was quite low. It was hot and Saturday had been a long day (and also hot) – that’s what I attributed it to. But on Monday I began to examine my thoughts and feelings and recognize that they were primarily self judgement, insecurity, doubt, and worry and in the past or future. At some point it hit me that I was being challenged in the very areas we had practiced on Saturday: being present (not caught up in analyzing the past or worrying about/imagining the future) and being loving and kind, starting with ones self. Hmmm…
The only way to really learn is by Doing and the most powerful learning, and growth, comes through the biggest challenges. So, little by little, moment by moment, I have been able to see the opportunity in this challenge of focus. And there is a gift there, too: I have the choice of what to focus my attention (thoughts/feelings/energy) on at each moment. Starting with mindfulness, the more I am fully present, in the here and now, the more I can recognize and release negative thoughts/feelings/energy and cultivate positive and productive thoughts/feelings/energy, including lovingkindness towards myself and the world around me.
I spent some time with ‘Be Here Now’ last night and like this description of mindfulness meditation:
The southern Buddhists (Theravadin) practice a form of meditation called Satipatthana Vipassana (Application of Mindfulness). It starts with the simple exercise of Bare Attention. All that you do is register thoughts, states, etc. in the present. This process slows down the transition from the receptive to the active phase of the cognitive process. You don’t think about your thoughts. You merely note them. This produces “peaceful penetration.” You transcend conceptual thought.
So I will start there (for a week is Ram Dass’s recommendation) and once I’ve gotten good at Bare Attention, I will move on to the next level of the practice.
I made my first visit to Spirit Rock last month with the intention of getting a feel for the place and community and seeking guidance on my spiritual path. Jack Kornfield spoke for a few moments and then everyone settled into their seats and began to, collectively, Let Go.
There was not a lot of instruction, just enough to help us connect with the breath, recognize our wandering minds, and return, again and again, to the Present. As I sat there, breathing steadily, tuning in to my body and energy, and consciously letting go of any tension I was holding, I realized what a gift it is to simply Be, to allow ourselves the time and space to slow down, breathe, and release.
There is so much wisdom and power and love and potential in each one of us, and the way to connect with it and work with it, for the good of all, is through this stillness, this letting go, this emptiness.
I’ve read a lot about these concepts/approaches over the years; this was my first time sitting in meditation with some guidance, and surrounded by others doing the same. It was nice to have that gentle support, and to feel a connection to the community around me, while also allowing myself to be fully me.
I returned tonight and think I am hooked! And that’s such a good thing, for that guidance and sense of community on the spiritual journey is something I have desired for a long time. I have been keeping myself open to it, but not actively seeking it, because my instinct was that the place and time were not yet right.
Appropriately, Jack Kornfield spoke of the teachings of impermanence and redemption,
“No matter what, it’s never too late to start again.”
Now that we have finally found a home base that feels right, the place and time have arrived! And how interesting that Spirit Rock is in our back yard.
We biked over to Fairfax a couple Saturdays ago. There was a festival going on so a lot of the good spots for locking the bikes were already full (we didn’t know they were offering a free bike valet at the festival – I love Marin!) Finally we chose a sign post at the edge of a small parking area and, while locking up, both noticed a cement plaque of sorts in the ground. Jeph called it a “hippie memorial” because there were some shiny beads and crystals around it. As we started to examine it, we noticed roses carved all around the edge and “Saying Thank You For A Real Good Time” inscribed in the center. I started to get “a feeling” and asked Jeph if maybe it was a Grateful Dead tribute. He confirmed that yes that phrase is from a Dead song. A couple stopped by and confirmed that it was a memorial to Jerry Garcia. I shared with all of them the coincidence of having Dead songs running through my head all week, choosing that spot to lock the bikes, then happening upon the memorial. They added to that coincidence the facts that his birth date was six days prior and the day he passed away was in two days. It started to feel like more than a coincidence.
Jeph and I were both both pretty serious Dead Heads, both went to quite a few shows (long before we knew each other), and still enjoy the music. Something about being in Marin has put that music in my head on a regular basis – Jerry used to walk these streets, Bob Weir still lives around here (maybe others…) As I’ve requested that Jeph play some of the songs I’ve been hearing, some I don’t even know the names of, and really listened to the lyrics (and/or looked them up), some of those words have been really moving.
One that’s in steady rotation in my mind is Bird Song. I had to hum it and sing the one line I knew then Jeph looked it up for me. It’s kind of interesting because apparently it was never part of a studio album they recorded, just played live. I wonder if I ever heard/saw it live?…The tune (by Jerry) and the lyrics (written by Robert Hunter) are just beautiful:
All I know is something like a bird
within her sang
All I know she sang a little while
and then flew on
Tell me all that you know
I’ll show you
Snow and rain
If you hear that same sweet song again
will you know why?
Anyone who sings a tune so sweet
is passing by:
Laugh in the sunshine
cry in the dark
through the night
Don’t cry now
Don’t you cry
Don’t you cry
in the stars
don’t you cry
dry your eyes
on the wind
There’s so much guidance and inspiration I get from the simplicity of that song. Like a good poem or piece of visual art, much of the power and resonance comes from the spaces between the words/sounds/lines/colors.
What it means to me
- Birds – as a whole, they are definitely power animals for me. J and I have both always payed attention to them and, since making our “bird film” their power has become stronger in my life (and Jeph’s too). Their songs and calls symbolize the songs and stories we all have within us and the ability to express ourselves.
- Snow and Rain – I’ve been through it, baby and will always have a piece of New Hampshire winter in my heart/soul/body. They are both stark and dark, cleansing and renewing. They help us find those “spaces in between” – the stillness and emptiness that lets us expand and evolve. I’ve had my share of snow (and cold) and am happy to embrace the milder, yet still cleansing/renewing, rains of Marin.
- Sunshine – it does make me laugh, and smile, sing, and dance. It makes me healthy and happy. It is healing and energizing. Amen for its abundance here in Marin.
- Cry in the dark; Don’t cry now- It’s a good release. It’s the yin to the yang of laughing/smiling. Sometimes they flow through us at the same time. By Letting It Out (the sadness, sorrow, suffering, pain, and challenges of life), we make space (back to that theme – I guess we never left!) for the sunlight.
- Sleep in the stars; Dry your eyes on the wind – The beauty, majesty, and power of the dark sky and bright stars and planets above us. I am (we are) able to see them and really connect with them out here in the country, away from the big city lights. They do help me sleep; they’re like a cozy blanket that surrounds me in dream land. And the fresh country air, it helps me to really breathe – deeply and fully. It’s hard to get stuck in sadness/tears when you really breathe and recognize the gift of that air. It reminds you of the beauty and power of life, sadness and tears included.
If you’re not familiar with Bird Song, or haven’t heard it for awhile, I recommend giving a listen.
Yesterday I fell down, and it hurt. But it also woke me up a little bit, and that’s a good thing. J and I were on a Sunday bike ride, tooling through downtown and as we passed the First Presbyterian Church, we both remembered, at the same time apparently, that I wanted some photos of the church bells – because they’re cool looking and I want to paint them. So, J crossed 5th Ave to get some up-close shots and I pulled over to the other side, thinking we would get shots from there. Once I realized he was across the street, I put my foot out to balance on the edge of the sidewalk and wait for him. But, apparently I misjudged where the sidewalk ended, my foot missed it and kept going down (the road dipped down), I lost my balance, and went down with it, landing on my wrist, ankle, and hip. It was a split second of traveling down, reacting, landing, regaining focus, and realizing I was OK, just a little sore. I wiggled out from under my bike, checked out the damage – just a little scuff on my ankle and palm and a sore wrist and hip – paused for a moment to regain breath and balance, then pulled myself up, dusted myself off, and assured J (and the nice older couple passing by in a car who asked if I needed help) that I was fine.
I recognized it as a teachable moment – teaching myself: Pay Attention, Be Focused and Present. It immediately brought to mind one of my favorite pieces of life guidance, as taught by Baron Baptiste:
We are either Now Here or No Where
The choice, as always, is ours. We can either choose to be really, fully Now and Here, or, by not actively choosing, we are somewhere else and, therefor, missing out on the power of Now and Here.
I believe this is one of the most simple, yet profound, lessons of human existence. We are born fully present in the Now and Here and exist, naturally in the moment, as babies and young children. But, as we develop, gradually our attention is pulled away to the past (memories) and future (desires/anticipations/plans.) So, as with many of life’s greatest lessons, we can re-teach ourselves, through awareness, and practice.
The Universe is there to assist us in awakening (enlightening) and uses a variety of tools and methods. Sometimes a little tough love, like falling down onto the sidewalk (I liken it to a zen master whacking a disciple), is big help. Just prior to the fall, I was distracted by a cool looking building and, not being Aware of what was in front of/below me, ran over a pretty deep manhole which could have thrown me from the bike. I thank the Universe for choosing a gentler teaching moment and I commit to living in the Now and Here with Awareness.
Another element of this lesson is that it happened while looking at the church bells. I see the bells as a symbol of spirituality, faith, the path of connecting with our true self and the higher powers of the universe. And I see my falling down, while looking at them, as a lesson that in order to learn and grow spiritually, we need to slow down and focus. First Presbyterian follows a Christian path, and refers to that universal power as “God”, which is not my chosen path (much more on that later), but from the writings on their website, I like the open-mindededness and, open-heartededness of their approach and will close with a quote from their site. I really, really like this reminder that the direction/guidance/answers we seek can be found Within. That is one of the best reasons to be fully present in the Now and Here: this moment is where we can connect to that infinitely wise and abundant inner power – our true self.
The guidance one seeks in spiritual direction comes…from the wisdom inherent in the seeker. Most of us have not been taught that we have within ourselves an “inner compass” of wisdom which will leads us into a life that is harmonious with God’s desires; that leads to creativity, peace and communion with God, self and others. As we learn to trust the “true North” of that interior compass, a sense of being companioned from within by One who loves us unconditionally is gradually strengthened.
Recently I wrote about the *free* desk that Jeph and I happened upon while out on a Sunday bike ride. I had been envisioning something very, very similar to what we found. It’s a perfect second desk/workspace and something we totally needed.
Now that is pretty cool. That is clearly Manifestation – The Law of Attraction – at work. I understand how that energy flow works, and have seen it born out in my life, usually subtly. And now I am learning (as is Jeph) that as our visions become more clear, our intention more focused, and our energy more open and strong, we attract and allow more of what we desire into our life.
I’m truly grateful for these gifts and feel strongly that they are meant to be worked with, to create and do good work, and to share with the world around me. This is not about Me or Us – it’s about learning and connecting. So, for example, we intend to do a lot of positive creating at this workspace.
The most interesting element of this whole experience is that when that particular bike route popped into my consciousness, I had a strange feeling. It’s kind of hard to describe but it was like a “flash”, or “twinkle”, or “wave” that made me think (I say “think” but it was midway between the conscious and sub-conscious) that maybe we would find something free on our ride. I believe that was a foreshadow of synchronicity and, having experienced it, I will be Awake and Aware for it’s positive potential in my life.
Here is an applicable quote from Abraham-Hicks, a daily source of Wisdom and Guidance for me:
Law of Attraction says, “That which is like unto itself is drawn.” Vibrations are always matched. So, as you experience the contrast which inspires the new desire, this new desire, whether it is a strong one or a soft one, is summoning unto itself proportionately. And as it summons, it is always answered. It is the basis of our Universe: When it is asked, it is always given. Humans think they are asking with their words, or even with their action, and sometimes you are, but the Universe is not responding to your words or your action. The Universe is responding to your vibrational calling.
I have a lot of other examples of synchronicity/manifestation/abundance to share and will keep them coming.